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July 30th 2009
Published: July 31st 2009
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After leaving the camper van back we got a taxi to Auckland city centre. We asked him to drop us off at a hostel as we hadn’t any booked. Base Backpackers is where he left us on Queen St. we booked in for two nights and said we would see what it was like as we had 4 nights in Auckland. The place was clean but it was more like a hotel and probably a good place for people who first arrive in New Zealand. It was very big though and hard to meet people. The beds were crap and we were back to using crap pillows with the consistency of a thin sheet. Oh the luxury of Ted! Our room was four walls, a bed and a fridge. The vents blew cold air. Michelle didn’t sleep a wink the first night and I didn’t sleep the second night. This was meant to be one of Auckland’s best. It was very clean and as good a location as you could get. It just wasn’t for us. We needed to find somewhere else.

In the mean time we ventured around the city and got ourselves a pass to four attractions. One of those was a trip to Kelly Tarltons aquarium. The main attraction here was a journey through penguins in a recreated natural environment. It was so good we went twice. The journey is 9 minutes long and you go around the penguins in an enclosed small red train at very slow speed. The train holds about 10 people and it you are real close to the penguins. It definitely made up for the time I chose not to walk with them in Ushuaia, Argentina. After going around once I had to persuade Michelle to let me do it again! There were stingrays and sharks there too and we also got to see Nemo and his friends. The shuttle took us back in to the city centre and we got off at the Auckland Sky Tower. The tallest structure in the southern hemisphere, the tower is 328m high. Between 190m and 220m there are all sorts of view points and restaurants. We got up there just before sunset and watched as darkness overcame the city and the bright lights of Auckland kick in. While up there we talked about why, our country, of similar population and greater wealth couldn’t build something like this. We built the Spire. That was all we could come up with. Not that the spire is ugly, its just doesn’t have a function. Auckland’s Sky Tower stands out day and night. It has a revolving restaurant, two 360 degree view points, cafes, bars, you can walk around the edge held on by a harness, or jump of it at 192m and most importantly and the biggest single difference to home, the prices are not crazy. We had three pots of tea (we sat for awhile!), a cup of coffee and two pastries all for €9. While we sat there we wondered how much it would cost for the same setting in Dublin city centre? €30? Remember, your looking out over the city, with 360 degree views, 200m in the air. It was no paper cup place either and it was table service. On second thoughts €30 is probably too conservative. The tower was built for the same reason the Spire was built. Something the locals could be proud of and tourists would flock too. Instead people make a mockery of the Spire.

Anyway, after contemplating life and enjoying the views of Auckland we decided we needed to find a new hostel. We searched through Hostelworld and came up with one that had free internet and wi-fi(unheard of in New Zealand), orthopaedic beds, it was cheaper, smaller and close to all the main streets. It was also the top rated hostel on Hostelworld so it had to be good. When we got there the next day we were greeted by a lovely women, who offered us loads of advice on the city, rang lots of buses and offices to find out different things for us and we had two big pillows each, which in a backpackers world, is like winning the lotto. Another great thing is that you had to take your shoes off at the door and it reminded us of that homely feel you get when entering houses and restaurants in Thailand. Unfortunately though, my trekking boots smell like hell and it was very embarrassing!

Bags unloaded we got a bus to Rainbows End, “New Zealand’s Premier Theme Park”! The bus journey was over an hour long and as we entered the park it lashed out of the heavens. It soon stopped though but everywhere we put our asses we got soaked. First up was the Pirate Ship and it was really more for kids than us! In fact most of it was for kids but what’s the harm every now and again acting like one. Michelle said it would be a good place to go on a date, so I said that’s why I brought her. She punched me and said stop being cheesy. I cant win! The rollercoaster was good fun but its small and the let you go around twice with out re-queuing its that small. We also had a bit of fun in the dodgems and I couldn’t help the feeling Michelle was getting me back for something, the amount of times she nearly put me out over the railing! We also did a 16 story high free fall, which brought back all the bad memories of our bungy. That feeling you get in the pit of your stomach before you jump will stay with us forever.

We stopped off in the supermarket and got dinner before boarding what became the longest bus journey ever. Because of traffic our 1hr bus journey turned in to over 3hrs. My legs were bent afterwards because of the small seats. Michelle said she had fun though watching me fall asleep, then my head would fall forward before I would loose control over it and jump back up and start the whole process over again. Auckland is a really cool city and I wish we had a few more days to explore it, but Australia is on the horizon and its time to move on.

In a bit. DH

Song of the blog: Coldplay - Speed of Sound

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